UP! - The Usk Project

The Usk upstream of Brecon

Our first venture with the Usk owners and fishermen was the joint buy out of the putchers and nets in the Estuary in 2000. Working together showed how much there was in common with the interests on the Wye and at the end of an appropriate 'engagement', we merged. The first priority after joining forces was to submit a project under ERDF Objective 2 and Transitional funding as these sources of major funds for river restoration were coming to an end. After several months work, the Foundation succeeded in gaining approval for two paired projects in the Transitional and Objective 2 areas that jointly cover the Usk catchment from source to Abergavenny. The projects commenced in January 2004 originally to run until the end of 2006. Together they are called the Usk Project, or more simply UP! and have a total projected spend of £0.9 million.

In 2007, a year's extension was granted to UP! (above Brecon) taking the total budget to £1.12m.
UP! funding was used to restore the degraded and inaccessible habitat on the Usk tributary streams and through the reopening of the blocked tributaries.

A marketing strategy similar to that set up in pHish was used to bring the benefits of river improvements to the rural economy with the ultimate goal of making these improvements self funding and sustainable. Our partners are listed below and includes for the first time Brecon Beacons National Park, through which most of the rivers involved in the project flow.

While the salmon fishing on the Usk may have improved since the 2000 net buy off (funded by Wye Salmon Fishery Owners Association, United Usk Fisherman's Association and the then Wye Foundation), there is still considerable scope for improvement and the famous Usk brown trout is not as numerous as it once was. Many regular fishermen are pointing out that while the average size of trout has risen dramatically (2lb fish are now common), numbers of small fish have declined. Stocking with hatchery reared fish is bad news for the river as it is expensive, fails to tackle the underlying problems and endangers the native populations. In addition, 'stockies' are no substitute for the famous native Usk trout.

Fishery scientists use the term 'lack of recruitment' to describe the phenomenon of poor juvenile fish production. The problem lies in the smaller tributaries. Siltation, diffuse pollution, habitat destruction and obstructions are the prime suspects and UP! is the means of putting right these evils.


Stock damage causing erosion problemsTydu
Stock damage causing excessive erosion problems on the Honddu, an Usk tributary. This is one of the sites to be tackled within UP!

An impassable weir on the Cynrig, blocking an important Usk spawning stream (left). The Foundation built fish pass was completed within UP! in 2006.

Foundation fish passes on the Usk tributaries of the Rhiangholl at Cwmdu (above left) and the Crawnon. Both were built within the UP! project.

Removal of a weir on the Cilieni, an upper Usk tributary, within the UP! project has opened up the miles of spawning stream to migrating salmon and trout.


Many thanks to all those Usk owners and fishermen who have had faith in us to deliver this project and supported it financially, and to our partners who together have made it possible to assemble such a substantial and worthwhile scheme.

Usk Project - Partners

UP! Project achievements:

Fish passes were built on:


Significant barriers to fish migration were removed on:


...while minor barriers were removed on:

Menasgin (again)

Habitat restoration work was completed on:

Ysgir Fawr
Upper main stem Usk